Saturday, January 28, 2012

Friday, January 27, 2012

Enchanted Forest - Work In Progress

Sensible people would have started from the top left. Not the bottom right.
I am not left-handed and I am not sensible.
I hope this doesn't get messy...

This is all colouring pencils, btw, even if it looks a little like watercolour. It's not.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


This is "Pounce" a young cer'rin, a species also known as the "predatory unicorn". However, cer'rin are not technically unicorns, because although it is true that they have only one antler, this splits as they mature and the number of prongs indicate the age of the buck. Another anatomical oddity is that the cer'rin is unique amongst mammals in that its front and rear legs appear mismatched - with large paws on the front feet and hoofs on the hind. This makes him especially fast and agile as he races through his forested home, hunting rabbits and small deer. Cer'rin have also been known to hunt in pairs and in this manner can bring down prey as large as an boar.

The antlers are only present in males of the species and are used during courtship displays. Males will lock their antlers together, and then wrestle, clawing at each other with their talons. These fights are terribly bloody - because it is quite difficult to break the lock until one of the participants dies. It is then consumed by its victor.

Pounce was first created way back in 2005:

Here is a very early conceptualisation of a predatory unicorn.

And here he is as an anatomically challenged calf.

And an "original species" art card.

And last but far, far from least is this amazing rendition drawn by the extremely talented Rose Moonfeather:

Dangit, looking at this one just makes me want to throw out mine and start all over again. I hate talent-envy. I suffer from it far too often...

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Enchanted Forest - Inked Stage

At present I am hosting a swap with the theme "The Enchanted Forest". Now, it has become traditional for me to send out additional cards to players, particularly those that send a bonus hostess card for me. This means generally for swaps I host I shall create around a dozen cards. Not usually too much problem, but this theme had foxed me a bit - especially coupled with the fact that I am rather enjoying working on larger pieces this year.

And thus I decided to create 9 cards as parts of a single image:

The black lines are not currently a part of the image, but do show approximately where the outlines of each card will be. From looking at this, I think the bat one needs something to balance it on the bottom right, and thus will remedy that.

Now, for the story behind this piece...
Well, there isn't one, not really - but ages and ages ago I particupated in a swap entitled "the Deep Dark Woods" which was an awesome theme but rather spoiled for me by the fact that the Host never sent out returns and therefore must have kept all the cards. Anyhow, for that I created a series of images - a witch's house, a giant spider, a strange gliding creature and some giant sundews. Some of these images were inspired by those cards, although the gliding creature has been replaced with a pair of grimalkyn. Which is interesting, because I thought my Grim was unique in his world. Oh well! Not sure what the deerlike creature is. Or the lizard-gryphon.

If anyone wishes to make up a story about a little anthro-mouse that lives in a gingerbread house and has befriened all the wild animals (including giant katydids), please let me know.

I shall post more up here as I begin colouring it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Why so quiet?

I've been quiet for the last week or so for two exciting reasons - one, is that a store in Otago purchased a large order of my art and I was involved in assembling a number of art cards and greeting cards and two, I was doing the final touches on my second novel, "A Midsummer Knight's Quest" (which was actually written first).

"A Midsummer Knight's Quest" is now available for Kindle on Amazon, and shall soon be available in paperback format (once I receive and approve my proofs) and also on kobo and hopefully (*finger's crossed*) the Whitcoulls website.

And just so you know - translating books into ebooks is a complicated process!

To convert to mobi (for kindle):
I have to first transform the odf (OpenOffice) into html, before doing that I changed all the fonts into Times New Roman and removed all the illustrations except the title page, map and advertisement at the end (this is because interior images make a mess of the layout and although I kept them in for Aroha's Grand Adventure, this one has a lot more in it).

Then, I convert it using kindlegen, and skim through the generated mobi file, locating any errors (and there were many, I do not understand why - changing fonts, losing the bold of headings etc) and fixing them via jedit.

Once I feel I have fixed them all (and multiple times before) I save and regenerated the mobi file until finally, voila - it looks decent!

To transform into epub:
This can be done from the mobi file or the pdf. When I tried to use mobicreator with the pdf it messed up the formatting.

I use Calibre to create the file.
I then use Sigil to edit the epub - fixing the formatting errors and setting the sections appropriately (for some reason it divided my copyright page up line-by-line).

As I have made some changes, I need to redo the epub file, but it will be a while before it's uploaded. I also need to "order" another ISBN for it.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

I have never before drawn a....

...Mechanical Hound - from Fahrenheit 451.

This has the distinction of being A, the first ATC I have drawn this year (the other pieces being 8x8s) and B, being something I have not drawn before, meaning I have already fulfilled one of my 2012 goals. Admittedly, I am also going to draw a WWII warbird, to further fulfil that goal.

Anyhow, this piece is for the Reading Group swap I'm hosting on Illustrated ATCs. It was tricky to draw - and I especially like the fact that despite the name "mechanical hound" these robotic trackers do not actually need to look anything like real dogs - they have eight legs and a needle in their "face", for a start. I've seen various interpretations, some going all dog, others tending towards the spider-ish. I chose to go with hound, however, because... well, because I wanted to, I guess!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Year of the Dragon continues...

2012 may be the Year of the Dragon, but I did not exactly set out to draw dragons exclusively.
But that seems to be what is happening...

Meet Pippit:

Pippit is a dragon faery (Draco faerus). A small colourful dragon that lives in the Amazon rainforest. Little larger than a common thrush, dragon faeries mainly dine on insects and eggs, and a deft at capturing butterflies on the wing. They communicate using high pitched whistles that sound not unlike bird call. They are also highly curious and intelligent and love shiny stuff. This they collect and hoard, often stringing it in tree branches or storing it in tree crevices. The male finds a tree that he thinks would make a nice den, and decorates it with all the hoard he can gather. Then he roosts in its highest branches and whistles his most musical tune. The females, upon hearing this, will flock towards him and judge his worth as a mate based on his eye for tree decorating as much as his melodies.

Alas, this dimunitive dragon is highly threatened. Not only because its habitat is disappearing, but also because it is in high demand for the pet trade. Colourful and playful, they make engaging pets and will willingly bond with human companions. Like parrots, however, they are not domesticated and are also very demanding. If ignored, their curiosity will lead them into mischief. Many a dragon owner has come home to find his trinkets rearranged, electronics disassembled and house laid waste to. Dragon faeries are also terrific mimics, and if locked into a cage will emit the most distressing noises they can think of - fire alarms, sirens, dogs barking... Much to the anguish of any neighbours. They are also quite adept at getting out of cages, and need to be padlocked in, as a simple sliding bolt will not hold them for long and their hands are very nimble.

Like many of my characters, Pippit has been around for some time. The idea was that I would write a series of short novels featuring his exploits - from the time when he was captured in the rainforest as a fledgling and taken to live in Victorian England. It was going to be a "history of the world through the eyes of a dragon". But I do not know if I shall ever write it. Meanwhile, here are some older images of him:

In the year 2000, I created the Dragon Faery species.
In 2003, I doodled up my first random sletch of a dragon faery that I called "Pippit".

In 2004, I came up with his current design. More or less.
In 2005, I turned him into an archaetryx type creature.
In 2009, I stuck with the dinosaur design, but went a bit more that way.

In 2012, I decided to give him back his butterfly wings and restore his front legs.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Dragon #2 for 2012

Here's Rhapsody, for cards in the landscape orientation. She's looking a little doped out, like she's been eating funny shellfish or something.

Here's some earlier pictures of Rhapsody:


And here's some of Fortune (from yesterday's post):


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Art Card Backing 2012

I have started designing a new Art Card backing for every year. Last year, Aroha took the centre stage, chasing a butterfly across the card. The year before, it was LemurKat. This year I wanted to do something different. After much pondering, I decided that since it was the Year of the Dragon, that Fortune should have the honours:

Fortune has never been a major character of mine - he was created for a Dragon eXchange as a kirin/eastern dragon hybrid. I believe that because of his mixed parenting, he was accepted into neither society and considered something of an outcast. This lead him to randomly wander the world, seeking friendship and comradeship. However, if I recall correctly, he was also supposed to bring luck to those who saw him.

Anyhow, I might design a landscape orientated card yet featuring my other dragon - Rhapsody Kelpdancer.

Here are some of my previous trading card backs:

2011 Aroha/My Little Pony/Pokemon

2011 - landscape, rarely used (layout wasn't good for writing in)

Oddly enough, I often get it asked in swap threads "who did this card?" despite the fact that nearly all of these clearly say "LemurKat" on there somewhere!

So, how many have you got?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Lemya and Passiflora

Recently I have been doing some large pieces - 8x8 inches, to be precise. Most of these have been for a "circle journal " swap. But it's not really a circle journal - because the actual journal is not being circulated - it's more just a pages swap.

My partner for January was Mrs Alderman, aka Lunathewhitewolf. She submitted a selection of characters to choose from and it took me some time and a few rough sketches to settle on the two I most liked. I chose the two most "natural" of her characters.

This differs in my earlier journal pages because the other two were 16x8 inch pieces that I cut in half. These ones are two separate and unrelated pages.

The first was Lemya, a mermaid-esque type character.

This is one of my only attempts to show sun rays slipping through water, and alas I do not think I was particularly successful. It is also the very first time that I have drawn a sunken ship - thus I have technically already completed one of my 2012 Artistic Goals. Lemya can communicate with sea creatures.

The second character is called Passiflora. She has an affinity with plants and can make them grow with her touch.